Creation Museum Part 1

Petersburg, Kentucky On August 28th, Craig and I took an early flight (way too early) to the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky airport to visit the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, about 7 miles from the airport. Having heard quite a bit about the museum, we were anxious to learn more about it in a way that only a first-hand visit could provide.

The result was an oddly enjoyable combination of admiration, amazement, bewilderment, amusement, aggravation, and sadness.

Museum Parking Lot Entrance I can’t speak for Craig, but when the cab driver dropped us off in front of the museum and drove away, I felt just a twinge of intimidation. The guards in the parking lot were dressed like state troopers, complete with official-looking arm patches and even more official looking firearms. I didn’t remember seeing armed guards when I visited the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences. I felt somewhat like an interloper, or, if I wanted to add a more masculine adventure flair to my description, a spy.

Creation Museum Entrance We had decided that we were going to remain “undercover,” so to speak… at least for the first day, in order to avoid any out-of-the-ordinary treatment. I gave a big smile to the guard and commented on the beautiful weather. He responded in kind, and seemed very friendly. We found that to be the case throughout the museum. The staff was very pleasant and helpful (with only a few un-noteworthy exceptions) and were quick to return my smiles and engage in light chit-chat.

04_Notice Posted on the front door was a notice stating that the Creation Museum was private property, a Christian environment, and an outreach of Answers in Genesis, Ken Ham’s ministry that teaches a literal interpretation of the bible, including a six 24-hour day creation and a 6,000 year old Earth. The notice was fairly worded and I didn’t find it offensive or inappropriate, even for a secular museum (other than the first sentence, of course). Be nice, be polite, etc. Good advice in a museum.

So far, so good. We got in line to get our tickets and purchased a two-day pass along with a few special tickets for the Planetarium shows and a presentation called “Microscarium” which was to show all the life that can be in a single drop of water (more on those shows in later posts). The two-day pass was only about $7.00 more than a single day pass, so we opted for that so we could come back and get any pictures or video footage that we missed on our first day.

05_Lobby Finally we got to the lobby and our first real taste of the kind of quality production values that were consistent throughout the entire museum. Every display, structure, statue, and facility was top-notch. To quote John Hammond, they “spared no expense” when they built this place… and it showed. Had I not known what the museum contained, I would have been filled with admiration and excitement rather than a sense of dread.

Walking past the mammoth skeleton in the front of the lobby, we got our first glimpse of where we were truly headed. A young girl and boy played in a stream while a pair of raptors (no, not the birds… the dinosaurs) stood together behind them. It was like The Flintstones, only presented with animatronic realism… and presented as actual history.

06_DinoGirl 07_DinoKids

The idea of dinosaurs living at the same time as humans is presented, even emphasized, throughout the museum’s exhibits. A literal reading of Genesis demands it and the Creation Museum revels in it, as Craig and I were about to find out.

We wandered around the lobby for a bit to take a look at the exhibits outside the main “Walk Through History” exhibit. There was plenty to see and we checked it out before heading into the staff-recommended Men in White video presentation in the special effects theater. We got a bit more of a taste of what we would be seeing later that day when we ventured deeper into the museum, including the Seven C’s in God’s Eternal Plan (the overarching theme throughout the museum) and an anti-scientific declaration mixed with worship.

7 C's in God's Eternal Plan Our Back Yard - So Much Difference

The Men in White video, like the rest of the museum, had extremely high production values and was very entertaining, though riddled with long-debunked creationist propaganda and absurdly caricaturized science teachers. It was easy to see how viewers who are not well-versed in basic science would be pulled into the descriptions and then walk out of the theater thinking that maybe there was something to the whole “6,000 year old Earth” thing. It was like listening to a fast-talking carnie who was also good-looking, charming, and gave you free candy… so you wouldn’t notice that the live, two-headed snake woman was neither alive nor two-headed.

Creationist Paleontologist We then headed into the “Walk Through History” exhibit, which was designed to guide the viewer along the biblical explanation for life on earth. It starts with the paleontologist room. Two men are digging up a dinosaur fossil. The television screens in the room explain that the two men are finding the same fossils, but they come up with different views depending upon their starting point.

What do we know about Dinosaurs? This is another key point that is hammered into the viewer repeatedly throughout the museum. A dichotomy is set up between “Human Reason” and “God’s Word” (with “God’s Word” portrayed as the ultimate truth, of course).

“Dinosaur fossils don’t come with tags on them telling us how old they are,” the sign proclaims. “We have to figure that out from a few clues we find.” That’s true, of course, but what the museum consistently ignores throughout its halls is that we have an overwhelming number of “clues” from numerous branches of science… and they all tell us that dinosaur fossils are millions of years old. Different Views... Different Starting Points It’s not a matter of interpreting the clues differently. It’s a matter of creationists ignoring clues that don’t meet their biblical requirements.

It’s the same with the “different starting points” claim, except this claim is more accurate, though probably not in the way the museum means it to be. Scientists do have a different starting point than creationists. Scientists start with the evidence and examine it to see where it leads. Creationists start with the bible and examine it to see how they can make the evidence fit. Scientists will change their ideas and theories based on new evidence. Creationists will never change their theories in the face of new evidence because, in their view, the bible trumps all evidence.

Same Facts, but Different Views… Why?

09_Why

Why, indeed.

(The tour will continue in part 2)


12 Comments

  1. “The guards in the parking lot were dressed like state troopers, complete with official-looking arm patches and even more official looking firearms. I didn’t remember seeing armed guards when I visited the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences.”

    Don’t you know Homeland Security when you see it? :P

    You were at the headquarters of the Department of Creation Security.

  2. Wow, this is fascinating, Dan. I honestly don’t think I could ever force myself to pay to see such lies and fallacies. Thanks for an objective narrative of your visit.

  3. “It was easy to see how viewers who are not well-versed in basic science would be pulled into the descriptions and then walk out of the theater thinking that maybe there was something to the whole “6,000 year old Earth” thing. ”

    An excellent point. It’s easy to get sucked in to stuff like this when you know just enough to make you dangerous about a subject. And I don’t mean ignorance, just maybe a general course in something in college. When people who study this stuff for a living tell you how it works, if you aren’t well versed in science, it’s not always easy to see the fallacies. I think it can be done, but yes, it is a trap.

  4. “The idea of dinosaurs living at the same time as humans is presented, even emphasized, throughout the museum’s exhibits. A literal reading of Genesis demands it and the Creation Museum revels in it, as Craig and I were about to find out.”

    When I was a child growing up in a Christian fundamentalist home, long, long ago, I was taught that there were no dinosaurs; that they were all hoaxes, bones of other animals put together and rearranged to look like dinos. My church and family’s literal reading of Genesis demanded that.

    I guess when there is too much contradictory evidence to continue with one “literal reading”, another “literal reading” is adopted.

    • Wow! So you were raised in the “dinosaur fossils were put here to test our faith” camp, huh?

      I guess there are multiple ways of being literal. Heh.

      • Not even that; I’m a bit older than that. No, what I was told, in the 1940s, was that the only true fossil dinosaurs were big lizards, and that the huge ones were just hoaxes built by godless evolutionists, made out of a few bones and a lot of plaster of Paris.

        I paid attention as a kid, and I have an excellent memory. It’s amazing how little of the “Faith of our Fathers” made it down through the decades to today’s Christianity, even among the inerrantists.

  5. Notice how it’s always dinosaurs, and never trilobites or any other long-extinct life forms. They don’t have to account for all the evidence, just the evidence someone with an 8th grade education would be familiar with.

    (Although I learned about trilobites in 6th grade, I imagine many Americans don’t.)

  6. Come on, get real folks! Are evolutionists really scientists or just followers of fashion? Try and at least step out of the box a little. Why are most of the people submitting comments on here pro-evolution. For the same reason they claim the christians are pro-creation. They have not really studied properly; they just accept the evolution propoganda. How come there are creatures on this planet which have remained unchanged for long periods of time. Macro evolution is a joke. The only way evolutionists have any chance of gaining credibility for their poor science is to believe the nonsense that the earth is billions of years old. Come on, have you seen the earth from the moon? Do you know how fragile it is? Just a speck of dust in an abyss of space. It takes a lot more faith to believe in macro evolution than it does to believe in a creator so I take my hats off to you. But do not kid yourselves that evolution is a science. I have advanced biology qualification and I’ve spent a little time studying the hype. Too many sheep in this world; not enough pioneers!

    • Followers of fashion? Evolution propaganda? Macro evolution is a joke? Nonsense that the Earth is billiosn of years old? The Earth is fragile? It takes more faith to believe in macro evolution? Do not kid yourselves that evolution is a science?

      I’m not sure how many more creationist cliches and non-sequitars you can actually fit in one comment.

      The only worthwhile part of your comment was your question about why there are creatures that have remained unchanged for long periods of time… and having to ask that question shows that you have a poor understanding of evolution… at least poor enough that you have disposed of any credibility that I may have accorded you out of courtesy.

  7. And by the way, I live in the UK very close to the Site of special interest “THE WRENS NEST” which is full of trilobites. I have a curled up one in my collection. What exactly has that got to do with anything? The woodlice in my garden are not much different and the ceolocanth (scientists have always been bad at spelling) fish was supposed to be millions of years old but this fish still lives in the Phillipines.What about the creatures at the bottom of our oceans; you really believe they have been reproducing for millions of years. Some of the students in my class have a better perspective on this than the befuddled, tired, old, atheistic, evolution promoting brains. Why don’t you get some brains, do some study and actually do your own research, instead of regurgitating so called modern ideas and the fiction of famous evolutionists who are not even proper scientists. De evolution and destruction yes I believe in that. Everywhere man goes he causes mayhem. Along with my friend Pepo, boat driver on the Vancouver Island, in Tofino one of the last beautiful untouched places in the world; “The most stupid animal on the planet is man. He kills life and destroys habitats knowing full well he will end up killing himself but he continues to do it!” Peace.

    • I like your final quote. It’s enjoyably thought-provoking.

      The rest of your comment is tripe and again, as in your comment above, shows that despite all your arrogant bluster, you have precious little understanding of evolution.

      It’s one thing to be doubtful of evolution when you understand that you lack information. It’s another thing entirely when, as in your case, you doubt evolution due to a lack of information, but act as though you have a firm grasp on the material.

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